Opinion: A Cry for Help

Jul 25, 2017 at 9:00
by Richard Cunningham  
No words for Aaron Gwin.
Aaron Gwin credits his Flat Tire Defender inserts for carrying speed through the roughest sections of race courses, but it couldn't prevent the slashed tire that cost him the Lenzerheide World Cup victory.


Recently, a number of innovative souls entered the mountain bike market with tire inserts—Huck Norris, Cush Core, and Flat Tire Defender are the most notable entries of what appears to be a rising tide of foam rubber tire and rim savers. Laughter was the initial response, but the room quieted down after we learned who had been winning races using inserts. Aaron Gwin was one of them. He had been on the ground floor developing the Flat Tire Defender and was so impressed that he insisted on a one-year, exclusive-use clause in his contract. Gwin won the World Cup DH series that season.

Bolstered by favorable results in competition and equally glowing reviews in the media, I have no doubt that large bike brands with comprehensive component ranges will join the party, touting their own “better than X” wheel-saving inserts. And, it won’t stop there. If inserts can save downhill or enduro wheels and tires from destruction, predictably, smaller and lighter-weight versions will be produced to share the love with cross-country riders.

Huck Norris Review
At 84 grams, the Huck Norris insert is presently the lightest alternative. The simple, full-width design wards off pinch flats.

Flat Tire Defender
The Flat Tire Defender insert's oval shape helps secure the beads and functions as the tire's bottom-out cushion.

Inserts could not have come at a better time. Mountain bikes and rider skills have jumped to new levels, while tire and rim technology has stagnated. Armed with some form of insert, future mountain bike riders may not have to suffer the disparaging sidewall slashes, pinch-punctures and damaged rims that many of today’s riders take for granted. Once again, grassroots inventors have stepped in to solve a persistent problem for their fellow mountain bikers and in doing so, also created an additional revenue stream for sagging retailers and bike brands searching for the new it. Everyone wins.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

The elephant in this room is that tire and rim makers could have addressed those issues long ago, but they didn’t. Without any recourse, their customers were left to figure out a solution. Tire and wheel manufacturers must have been aware of those deficiencies soon after the first wire-beaded pneumatic tires were mated with Thomas B. Jeffery’s clincher rim—which means they have had over a hundred years to figure it out. A century of gradual improvement that resulted in some darn good products, but failed to produce a spark bright enough to illuminate the insufficiencies of the existing system or ignite a fire underneath manufacturers that was hot enough to inspire action. Brush aside the silly science, peer behind the marketing terminology, and it becomes apparent that the only real innovations that cycling’s rim and tire makers have given us in that century have been the folding bead, and the tubular cross-section rim profile. (For the record, UST was a fail.)

If any of you are tearing up over this abuse, grab a hanky and let me explain how the process actually works. There’s the design phase and then there’s the manufacturing phase, and it all boils down to this:
Thomas Jeffrey patent drawing
Thomas Jeffery patented the clincher rim in 1882, five years before John Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire.

Rim designers fuss about tenths of a millimeter here and there. They play video games with powerful Finite Element Analysis software to optimize materials and experiment with shapes to counter stress, both real and imagined. But, when the meetings are over and the profiles are finalized, the people with clean fingernails hand their files to the folks with dirty fingernails and the woman in charge of manufacturing, wearing blue overalls and black-rimmed magnifiers yells: “Listen up! It appears that (your name here’s) new lightweight, fragile rim design is thinner and their cutting-edge heavyweight, strong design is thicker! Imagine that?”


Stans Arch MK3
Stan's Arch rims exemplify the modern tubular cross-section clincher design.
Der Baron 2.4 Projekt Tires
Continental's graphic depicts the strategies used to bolster conventional tires.


Tire makers would love you to believe that they allocate twenty engineers and spend a gazillion dollars on rubber compounding for each and every bike brand who walks in with a tread design in hand, and even if that were true, after the manufacturer’s designers are done designing. After the know-it-alls at Big Bike Brand USA, or TrailBreaker International walk out of their secret meetings, the large, bearded man with black shoes and a sweaty brow who runs the production line yells; “TrailBreaker International Enduro Tire—more rubber and extra fabric!” And; “You guys, over there—Big Bike Brand XC Trail Tire—less rubber and less fabric!”

Yes, I have toured wheel factories. Yes, I have toured tire-manufacturing facilities. Yes, I have participated in those design processes and, yes, I understand that most of those people are very passionate about their crafts. Excuse me for oversimplifying it, but the end result is the same: another clincher tire is born to pinch flat, suffer sidewall punctures and probably fall off the rim shortly after—and another clincher rim will be born to assist in that process. Embarrassing? You bet. Pathetic? Wait for it.

“Pathetic” is that mountain bikers—paying customers—put up with that cycle of inertia for over 30 years and bought those products with hardly a whimper. “Pathetic,“ is when we finally wake up and realize that wheel and tire makers are never going to get off their asses, we buy eighty-dollar rubber snakes to stuff into thousand-gram tires, mount them to DH-weight wheels and then high-five each other for this cutting-edge solution. “Pathetic” is how many who read this will adamantly defend the status quo.

cush core insert
Cush Core's graphic echoes performance claims made by most insert makers. One Cush Core weighs about 250 grams.
Funny how a foam ring can save one s race.
Jared Graves flatted, but finished the stage using a Cush Core insert (laying on the ground) at the Madera EWS.


Follow the same path and you will always arrive at the same destination. The law of diminishing returns suggests that, regardless of the magnitude of their investments, tire and rim makers will fail to achieve any significant improvement in performance or durability by employing their present construction and fundamental design methods. You don’t have to search far to find proof.

The best pioneer mountain bikes, with their rigid frames and forks, weighed 30 pounds. Today, a top 150-millimeter-travel dual-suspension trail bike weighs the same, and it is a magnitude more durable and reliable. We got there by exploring different paths—by abandoning construction methods and design standards that were weak and then adopting new ones that were lighter, stronger and more efficient. Imagine how pendulously heavy a mountain bike would be today if we simply added extra layers to every component that lacked sufficient strength or durability?

Views: 146,420    Faves: 31    Comments: 15
To their credit, Mavic co-developed the UST system, which introduced the tubeless concept, and a modest locking bead interface. Tire and rim makers, however, largely rejected the open-source system.


I don’t think it’s my place to tell all of you rim and tire makers how to run your businesses, but as part of your food chain, I think it’s fair to offer up some suggestions. So, while you are discussing your next products, please consider these starting points:

Casings that can’t be torn: Hate to break it to you, but rubber is not armor. Same goes for polyester and nylon. There are a number of fabrics available off the shelf that don’t abrade, and that can stop shattered glass, sharp knives, micro-meteorites, and bullets. Rubber is the heaviest component of a wheel. The only place it should be used is for the tread and to seal the tire. A tubeless tire should never suffer a sidewall tear.

Locking beads: A tire should never come unseated from the rim after a puncture, and a tubeless tire should never burp air. Give us a rim and bead interface that locks in place.

Design a cushion: Dump the sealing tape and give us an engineered plastic liner that has an O-ring for the valve stem, seals the rim, and incorporates some sort of cushion between the rim flanges and the tire. Bottoming the tire casing onto the rim is a fact of life. Design for it.

Safe failure mode: Optimize lower tire profiles for wide rims and then mold them so if a tire goes flat, the tread mushrooms over the rim to protect it, and also to maintain a degree of control. (A feature that could also prevent a lot of road riders from becoming human hamburger.) It would be great to roll out from a flat without inflicting fatal damage to the rims.

If any or all of those tips prove helpful, don’t thank me. Thank the folks who designed those tire inserts I mentioned earlier. They risked their own money to solve your problems and, to a large degree, they managed to address every item on that list. So, rather than steal their work by developing your own inserts, why don’t you folks invent a new tubeless tire and rim system that offers us a permanent solution. No need to rush. We’ve waited 30 years.

In the meantime, I wholeheartedly recommend inserts for aggressive riders who suffer punctures and damage caused by the inadequacies of existing clincher rims and tires. Shelling out over 80 dollars for inserts and adding 200 grams or more to your wheels is a smart investment when you consider how miniscule the performance returns would be if you gave your 80 dollars and 200 grams to the tire and wheel guys to do the same job. In the end, however, inserts are not a real solution, they are a cry for help.



MENTIONS: @RichardCunningham




381 Comments

  • + 307
 I still use tubes.
  • + 345
 What are these "tubes" you speak of?

Are they related to front derailleurs?
  • + 58
 everyone didnt bother to fix the problem because they were making loads of money on replacement tires and tubes mostly, DUHH !!
  • + 6
 Fool
  • + 52
 @fredro: Once, long ago, small tires ruled the land. They were spoken of with awe, and all other sizes were shunned. Dry they were, with no required liquid to clog their tubed arteries. They were the 26ers, may they rest in punctures.
  • + 7
 How do you not get pinch flats? I can't use tubes anymore because I ride very rocky terrain. Too many pinch flats. I recently crushed my rear wheel and used my spare with tubes, got a flat on the first downhill I rode. I inflated it to a high psi and still flated.
  • + 76
 2-Ply DH casing tires, DH tubes. Did not get a flat in 5 years. Few grams more? Sure. Worrying about flats? Never.
  • + 45
 @aliikane: I grew up riding a rigid in very rocky terrain. Learned to be very smooth. Then to hardtail. Then to full suspension. It's a balance between PSI, riding style, and terrain. Get one or two flats a year but still beats the hassle of tubeless in my opinion.
  • + 32
 @adam102: almost 1 pound per tire (the difference between a High Roller EXO kevlar bead & & a High roller DH wire) plus another pound per wheel (A quick google search show maxxis DH tubes weighing over 400g) is not "a few grams."
  • + 42
 @Powderface: My story is much the same as yours except I use tubeless and I haven't gotten a flat in the past six years (a few punctures have self sealed via Stan's). One tire punctured and self sealed and I used it for another three months. No problems. I don't see tubeless as any hassle at all.
  • + 17
 I use ghetto. So far so good - touch wood
  • + 4
 @adam102: on 26" V10. #IRideSnowshoe
  • + 6
 @aliikane: Do you put baby powder on your tubes/in the casing before putting it all together? Could help. Or broscience, who knows.
  • + 7
 @dreamlink87: #26aintdead!
  • - 5
flag bohns1 (Jul 27, 2017 at 16:27) (Below Threshold)
 @fredro: no, actually they're part of srams new eagle 1x13!
  • + 8
 @Powderface: psi is the catch imo. without a gauge people assume they know what pressure is adequate. often they are wrong.
  • + 21
 @fredro: ah yes, the front derailleur was a simple device which Sram never seemed to be able to master. Because of this they just gave up and marketed it as obsolete instead.
  • + 8
 @bohns1: It's not Eagle, it's Vulture 1x13.
  • + 2
 Me too!
  • + 7
 26x2.35, dh casing, tubes, decent pressure, no flats yet #iridesnowshoe
  • + 6
 Me too. My friends call me a dinosaur
  • + 12
 Me too, 26 inch alloy rims with tubes.
  • + 5
 @aliikane: baby powder bro.
  • + 5
 @fredro: FFS, this is how the industry sells more useless expensive crap (aka "systems"), to help protect fragile carbon rims purchased by those for whom $$$ is no object. Who will be first in line to buy?
  • + 1
 I got/get flats regularly with tubes. "This is the key failure point"............"but can we possibly make it a mecha-failure point?"..........."I don't know captain, but we can certainly try!"
  • - 4
flag tuumbaq (Jul 27, 2017 at 23:22) (Below Threshold)
 May I ask what hassle you are referring to? Do you mean putting air in your tire ? Lol Fitting a tube in your tire is literally MORE work than adding a simple scoop of scelant... I replace the valve once or twice a year and that's it. The only reason not to run a tubeless setup nowadays is if you prefer the feel of a tube over tubeless.@Powderface:
  • + 7
 @will-jj: Choosing tire pressure should be like tuning your suspension. More pressure for high speed bikepark berms so you get less squirm and lower pressure to get more grip for natural terrain. You shouldn't have to run a certain amount of pressure or else you will flat! That is just silly! I run procore and no longer have to worry about having enough air not to flat. I just decide how much air to put in my tires depending on where I am going to ride!
  • + 8
 @Nictue: been using baby powder for years, swear by it! I was told by a wise old roadie that It keeps the tyre an tube seperate and able to move independently. Which, seems to help against snake bites. I guess the tube can move an flex more so doesn't get crushed or torn in a snake bite rim ding. I've even once had a huge nail go in an out of a tyre, about 10mm from entry to exit. The tube amazingly didn't puncture!! Kinda got pushed away I guess? If the tube was stuck to the tyre as one the nail would've gone through both.
  • + 10
 Still a fan of tubes here, practical and cheap. An don't get many punctures, maybe a couple a year.. I think something that helps is being a bigger guy, 95kg ish. I'm running tyres at 28-32psi for DH an 36-42 for trail. I got plenty of friends that run as low as 15-22psi an puncture tubes or loose tubeless psi regularly. Tried tubeless once an got fed up with loosing around 20psi on the rear every trail ride. Pressure held fine when the bike wasnt in use, only lost pressure when riding. One thing that makes me laugh is how people want the lightest tyres, the lightest rims. The latest tech tubeless setups, but... When they still end up with punctures, torn tyres an dinged up rims. They will happily spend more cash on 300-600gram tyre inserts!! Dual ply DH casings with medium wieght tubes, baby powder an cheap alloy rims keeps me rolling!
  • + 10
 One does not simply walk into Mordor One does not simply provide solutions Well written RC!
  • - 3
 @adam102: You're Lucky, I used 2-ply DH casings and DH tubes at 35 psi and still pinch flatted or sliced my tires 4 out of 6 runs
  • + 1
 @Kiwimatt: It also allows bikes to get shorter stays, and fit wider tires in them while maintaining a normal bb width.
  • + 7
 @SonofBovril: bo!!ocks you do
  • + 8
 @nojzilla: You are doing something wrong. 42 psi? What? I am a 100kg's and run 20psi all day long with a decent tire. On my plus bike I run 13 psi on i40mm wide rims, on narrower rims-tubeless it burped, but with tubes it still rolled over.

42 psi? Might as well have wood for tires.
  • + 1
 @bonfire: full stans/sun ringle rim, seals fluid an maxxis high roller TR tyre . I've been told stans isn't the best but remember the set up lost pressure when being ridden. I don't allways run high pressure, depends where I'm riding. In the 30's for grip higher if I want less rolling resistance or don't need my tyres rolling all over or commuting
  • + 1
 @will-jj: 26x2.5, dh casings, dh tubes, good pressure, and at least one flat a trip.

#Iridesnowshoe.
  • + 0
 @BDKR: define 'good' in actual psi?, have you checked that the gauge your using is accurate?
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: This IS Snowshoe we are talking about here. Tons of roots and tons of rocks. Even some of the flow lines here have nasty sharp edged baby heads (top of Dreamweaver as an example) and tons of rocks. And the roots don't give either. Some of the lines have so many roots (J and H) they look like Fangorn!

Couple that with the amount of rain the place see's and you're talking significant amounts of mud that get's dragged over those roots and rocks.

So since nobody is adjusting their pressures between runs for different lines or trails, you find what you can deal with and ride the day out like that.
  • + 2
 @groghunter: But EXO casings tear if you look too hard at them, I have given up after tearing up 2 sets of Maxxis EXO tires on their first runs, that's 4 quite expensive tires straight into the bin after less than an hour of riding. Michelin, Continental and Bontrager have held up nicely on the same trails.

Might give Maxxis another try when their folding DH casings are available in Europe.
  • + 1
 @bonfire: I have to run 2 bar or so in my tires, and I ride only beefy casings that can take abuse, any less than 2 bar and I'm constantly hitting my rims. I weigh 75 kg with riding gear.
  • + 3
 I hate even the idea of getting a puncture, and I can never stop myself taking that slightly rocky or rooty line that I know I really shouldn't; no self control.

Because of that I run 2.5 DHF in DH casing with a cushcore and stans race sealent front and back. It's heavy, but it's not going to puncture easily.

Only issue is I don't carry a spare tube now, as Cushcore is such a pain to install it's going to be impossible to fix an issue on the trail...
  • + 5
 @lifted-d: "Good" can't be an actual number that works for everybody!!!! A girl weighing 110 lbs on a 130mm bike IS NOT going to need the same thing as a dude weighing 200 on a DH bike.

#facepalm!!!!!!
  • + 6
 Ran tubeless when it first came around, the OG maxxis system, ghetto, UST, Stans strips. Got tired of losing PSI on rides (burping mostly even with over 30psi, punctures still happened) and dealing with that gunky mess trailside when the inevitable flat happened (burping). Back on tubes/talcum powder, and one flat in 2 years on the trails, no flats on the DH bike in nearly 8 years and we're talking bromont, st anne, etc.

The industry is pushing band-aid solutions. We need a proper tubeless setup, not some gunky fluid that hardens up in a few months and barely works to begin with. Now we are stuffing pool noodles in our tires as a solution.....
  • + 0
 @Powderface: please state all hassles of tubless
  • + 2
 @groghunter: I agree, and especially more weight on wheels makes the difference bigger (rotational weight). But as long as I have fun and don't have any problems, I'm ok with that.
  • + 1
 @bsarfino: That's a 24'' V10, but it's not mine, unfortunately.
  • + 2
 @aliikane: a lot depends on the rims you are using, some are much more prone to pinch flatting. I had an old set of rhino lite rims that I could rim strike all day and never pinch flat, then I got a new bike and pinch flatted every ride until I went tubeless
  • + 1
 @nojzilla: Holy shit, you run 40psi on a trailbike? I weigh about the same as you and run 22-30psi (tubeless, schwalbe snakeskin, 21mm internal rim) and haven't had a flat in years.
  • + 4
 @BDKR: Hey. Procore maybe expensive but would definitely help get traction in those conditions!
  • + 3
 @Remmn: 1. Burping 2. messy 3. you can still pinchflat if you run lightweight tires 4. does not protect rims
This is why inserts are better
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: Totally agree! I've actually been considering Huck Norris but have been too busy with other things to follow through.
  • + 1
 @shredteds: 36-42...... Trails aint that rough where I'm at. Typical sanitised surfaced trail centre. Though even at the roughest Welsh centres I've ridden I only drop to around 32, don't really like the feeling of tyres folding,rolling in hard fast stuff
  • + 1
 @nojzilla: I ride a pretty rough, sharp, unsanitized area and I consider myself somewhat quick (Low tier pack filler in pro class enduros, for reference), but I will almost never run more than 30psi. I don't feel excessive tire roll under 23psi or so.

Most Pro DH guys don't even run pressures above 30psi nowadays. Adam Brayton runs under 20psi on his DH bike, and I'd bet he's quicker and riding rougher stuff than either of us mortals.
  • + 1
 @aliikane: air up... I'm 6'2 200lbs and run 40 psi with downhill tires in the rockiest, most jagged shit ever... trade off for traction is zero flats!
  • + 0
 @adam102: A few pounds/kilo more*
  • + 1
 @BDKR: ive been loving it. i run maxxis exo. i went through 3 tires in two weeks. my huck norris have been in for about a year and im in need of more. i ride around 3500 miles mtb a year. i race with huck norris on xc races and i ride all mountain with it. not one pinch flat. i used to pinch and tear right on the bead, no more and huck is light in comparison. i dont run it up front but i run it on two hard tails and promise I am riding far from flow terrain
  • + 1
 I think Gwin should get airless tyres. Maybe shaft drive too. When I hear riders complain about 30lb DH bikes being too light it's time for those ultimate solutions that were always considered too heavy or expensive.
  • + 2
 @SintraFreeride: I actually live at snowshoe and work as a mechanic, I know how tire pressure works. Snowshoe isn't your typical bike park (watch some videos) I run between 28-32psi depending on conditions on a 180mm bike and have yet to pop a tube or have a lack of traction directly related to tire pressure.
  • + 1
 @chize: That's not at all a bad observation!

What would be awesome? If someone tested various wheels (with different cross sections of course) and tested under controlled conditions to verify what you are intimating.
  • + 1
 @BDKR: That would be quite hard, creating controlled conditions for this test. Not impossible though. From others (and mine) experiences, I can tell that it's really, really hard to pinch flat on Sunrims Doublewides. You would rather flat spot them than pinch flat. On the other hand, who would ride them today? (Except me).
  • + 2
 @adam102:
I got a puncture in a qualifying heat for the mega last year on my Nomad,so soon as I got home, 2ply downhill casing Minion DHFs and freeride Maxxis tubes with sealant (yes sealant!) was fitted to my bike and I've not had a puncture since! Yeah rolling weight is high but I won't be stopping to fix a puncture which can cost you in race/qualifies.
As I know!!!

No punctures equals more riding time!.... Win.

Ps my hardtail is set up tubeless though. Pigeons amongst the cats Smile
  • + 2
 @adam102: WTB i25 frequency rims behave similar in that they dent easy enough. One flat in 4 years on em. Lots of dents though! Haha.

I had a doublewide rear back in the day. Kawi green!
  • + 0
 @groghunter: EXOs are complete shit. And you still have to count the tape, the sealant and the valve. The difference is just a few grams after all.
  • + 1
 @adam102: Perhaps, but it's the kind of work that needs to be done.

And why should I continue to give my money to these dudes if they can't be bothered enough to test the propensity of a design to pinch flatting. Of course I'm phucked because I want to ride so I have to cough up some money. LOL
  • + 1
 I've been finding that I can run lower pressure in my tubed tires, because I don't burp them. Pinch flats seem to be a rarity nowadays (I guess I ride smooth?). And yes I ride rocky trails, I live in southern Utah.
  • + 1
 @lifted-d: Yep I'll second that. I used to pump the tyres on my commuter til they felt right with 'the thumb test'. It was sometimes a bit squirrely at speed and I would occasionally tear valves and find weird powdery stuff in the tyre casing when I repaired punctures.

I got a track pump with a gauge and found I'd been thinking 20psi was good to ride around town on 26x2.1 with tubes. Increased pressure to something over 35 and suddenly all problems went away and tyre casings stopped falling apart too!
  • + 1
 Great article !!!
  • + 1
 I have hit rim quite hard many times on my bike with tubes and haven't pinch flatted for a whole year... same tubes that came on the bike :0 I think they are magical.
  • + 1
 @Powderface: what hassle
  • + 1
 It all comes down to how you ride. I don't last a week without a flat with that setup.
  • + 1
 I'm saying if your 200lbs. Then you should know what psi you run. I'm 190 and with 2.5 dh tires I run 26f/28r tubeless. A couple psi harder at sun peaks. @whistler @BDKR:
  • + 2
 @atrokz: So damn true...I have been complaining about this for years. All the tricky tech we have come out with and still our only tire solution is tubes and terrible Stans. Your right about Stans it is simply a pain in the arse and effective "some" of the time.
  • + 1
 @lifted-d: Understood, but what's the point of looking for a number? When I said good, I said good for me based on the conditions. Asking for an actual PSI without asking for my weight, actual tires being used, tubes being used, wheels, suspension, and where this is occurring is pointless.

When you get right down to it, there is so much variance in equipment and riding styles that it's nearly impossible to predict how everything will work together without empirical data. AKA just riding your bike!
  • + 1
 @BDKR: Agreed. People quoting psi values is generally pointless unless you are the same weight, ride the same setup on the same trails. Saying that I do note my own psi values down for reference.
  • + 1
 @adam102: Why aren't the pros using tubes? I don't think many if any are using tubes anymore.
  • + 81
 I don't really get it. I haven't flatted since 2014. I run tubeless tires (Minion DHF up front and HRII in the back) and keep my tire pressures around 28-30psi and make sure I put new sealant in every 3-6 months. Some dudes laugh that I have my pressure up that high, but I get plenty of traction and aren't pinching my tires on my rims. I live in BC and spent two full seasons on the North Shore, which is rocky, rooty, and not great for tires and wheels. I'm also 200lbs so feel like I should keep the pressure up a bit to protect my rims. I don't race DH or enduro, so obviously I don't ride as hard as a lot of people.
But it seems like the 'bro' thing to do is to try and mess with tire pressures in the teens and then bitch about slamming their tires with their rims, resulting in flats and ruined tires. Put your pressures up, and your risk of flats significantly decreases, right?
  • + 31
 Have you experimented with lower pressures to see if you notice a difference/benefit? I used to be like you an just pump up my tires to around 30 PSI but I've experimented with slightly lower pressures and have noticed a big difference with grip and overall riding feel. For me, anything between like 22-26 PSI seems to be the sweet spot between having enough pressure so you don't run into issues often but low enough that you can get a lot of grip. If I go much lower than that, it definitely starts to get sketchy. Also seems to vary a lot between different tires.
  • + 60
 " X works great for me, I don't understand why Y & Z have been invented"

You gotta look past your personal setup and think that there are people other than you, riding in other places, who are suffering flat tire related issues.

I see your argument ALL the time online, and its not cutting it anymore.

Insert any of the following for the same argument:

- 26" wheels work fine
- Who needs 1x when front deraileurs exist?
- 50T rear cogs are useless I get by fine with 1x10

Enough is enough.
  • + 16
 @bull-dozer: Yes I tried to lower my pressures just to see what the fuss was about but kinda felt like the tires were floppy and found I wasn't climbing as efficiently as previously. My tires are pretty huge already so the traction is great, I think. If I was shuttling all day maybe it'd make sense. I'd rather ride with a low risk of flats than a slight improvement in traction. Again, just my opinion. I'm not racing or anything.
  • + 8
 @devin-m: Yeah true, I hear that a lot as well. I buy all that new stuff, as I think it's rad. But I haven't come around to running my pressures at 11psi and praying that I don't shred a tire to pieces off a drop...especially when I know it will be 100% my fault if that happens. Am I way off on this?
  • + 8
 @bull-dozer: anything below about 30psi and the gains aren't enough for me to bother, start cornering really hard and your tyres get weird. one of the fastest people I ride with runs his tyres around 40psi as he tears them off the rim at lower pressures, I don't really understand how he ever has traction but each to there own eh!
  • + 3
 I'm 215# and I run DHF/DHR 29ers tubeless and if I put over 25# in, they feel like rocks. I generally run 22/24 and have had no problems.
  • + 6
 @gbeaks33: Try it again. I used to be like you and pump it to 30psi and call it a day. There are a lot of variables in the system but when you experiment for a while you find that perfect psi that works for you.

At 30psi my rear end felt really chattery and didn't want to track the ground due to the tire acting kind of like a spring. After a bit of experimenting I found that right at 26psi my tire acted sooo much better. Instead of it wanting to bounce away from any impact (rocks, roots), it more absorbed them and gripped much harder.

You don't have to start off at a low psi, just start at your regular psi and ride the same trails you normally do. Then the next couple times you go riding start with 1 or 2psi lower than usual. Large volume tires will be more sensitive to psi change than a lower volume tire. You can get better grip and have sidewall support+flat protection, you just have to play around with it for a while.
  • + 5
 i run my tires at pressures like you. and unless i run downhill casings, i tear tires in no time.
  • + 12
 @devin-m: Chill dude. I think the point is that people are trying to make the technology perform outside of the range that they are designed for. E.g. tyres aren't designed to be ran at 11 PSI without destroying rims, nor are rims. If I were to say "you are all wrong because I hate that squirmy feel of low pressure tyres" then you'd have a point, but that's not what were saying. In reality we're saying "you are asking the product in its current form to perform beyond what is reasonably expected". Sure new tyre developments could remedy that, but that's only if there is a market for it. Nobody would bat an eyelid if I said put more air in the rear shock if you keep bottoming out and destroying shocks.

Personally, I actually do hate that squirmy feel, our local trails are super rocky and sharp, and at 200 lb I usually run about 30 PSI, or drop a bit of air before descents. The only issues I have had are sidewall cuts on maxxis and schwalbe. Specialized Butchers with grid casing has been puncture free for about 2 years.
  • + 0
 dupe
  • + 2
 @ChubzyWubzy: There are to many variables to say I run my tire pressures like this so you should. People have different styles weights and terrain. You don't put the same amount of air in an F350 as you do a ford focus.
  • + 3
 Same. 27/30
  • + 5
 @devin-m: #26aintdead
  • + 5
 Depends how fat you are m8.
  • + 1
 I'm about the same weight. Running similar setup for tire size and pressure. Love it. Haven't had any issues so far but that's not to say I never will. @Levelheadsteve:
  • + 3
 @bull-dozer: absolutely correct! Tire pressure is significant. Ride a single pivot suspension and you figure that stuff out quick. Your tires are part of the suspension people. It's all a system and it all interacts. Too much pressure is harsh. Too little feels squirrelly soft enough to get a nice contact patch and absorb the small stuff is perfect. Tire pressure and which settings totally interact.
  • + 5
 @devin-m: yep. A lot of these riders don't realize there's people that are actually faster than them that go flat with any current setup. I've had tubeless with plenty of psi come off the rim by just railing a corner, nevermind not bringing a whip back around fully or landing slightly crooked off a drop which happens all the time if you ride a lot and push yourself.

The riders are starting to exceed the capabilities of the hardware in the wheel department. I run moto tires tubliss with 3-6 psi on the rear and if it goes flat I can ride back because the inner core keeps the bead on the rim. We're not sending someone to the moon, just need a mtb tire that doesn't fail under any number of normal riding conditions.
  • + 2
 @gbeaks33 Ditto....I run decent tyres and have been keeping my pressures high and only knock a pound or two off to find when they grip. This works well for big guys. I recently deviated and paid the price during an important qualifier....and trashed a rim.

I also think some riders just plough stuff that is asking for trouble and then wonder why they end up shredding a tyre or puncturing....I've seen exactly the same road riding in the past...with little dudes getting punctures when I never did.

I do think the tyre/wheel systems could be a lot better though....I don't fund maxxis beads big enough to really snap in tight yet I like the tyres performance
  • + 1
 I have run split tube (ghetto) tubeless for the past 7 years with very little issues. I now run Exo Minions F+R and about 23F 26R on a HT and I am 95kg. The trails here are mainly clay with roots and no sharp rocks.

IMO the issue with a standard tubeless set up is the tyre and rim can come in contact. I think with a split tube setup the small section of tube between the trye and rim does help to prevent pinch flats. My old rear wheel has 5-6 large dents and I never pinched the tyre.

For more rocky trails I would either try a double split tube (to provide more rubber between the rim and tyre) or thicker split tube before going to a heavier tyre. This also keeps the mass as close to the centre as possible which is not the case with an insert. Plus the split tubes don't soak up sealant.

Sidewall cuts are another matter.
  • + 2
 @devin-m: common sense is so hot!!! please have my babies!
  • + 2
 @Travel66:
I really don't get the torn sidewall issue. I've been riding for over 20 years and have never ripped the side out of a tire. Pinch flats, slices in tubes, thorn flats, sure, but not like what is being described here.
I'm 185, run around 30psi (enough to get the carcass to flex when I put weight on it). front and rear and rarely get flats.

As for asking for tires that don't come off the rim in a flat... They can't make car rim/tires that do this either. The only exception is bead lockers on off road rigs. That is the only solution so far. So yeah, bike tire manufacturers could to it, but everyone would complain about the weight.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: my Brand new and moratally wounded rear E13 got a 5mm puncture but stayed on the rim which allowed me to get through a section to where I could stick a tube in.

BTW that's the only puncture I've ever had on E13 tyres and I was probably just unlucky that it was on the back of a side knob that I'm guessing moved around and made the hole bigger.

I have never gone through a sidewall of a decent tyre either although there's some pretty big marks from some rocks.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: I call that Gangsta tubeless. Fold the excess flap back over the bead before installing tire. My favorite set-up, even helps keep tire from burping or coming off a hookless rim. More work up front, but worth its weight in gold!
  • + 1
 Is it possible to burp with the split tube method/ anyone have issues with that?
@fartymarty: et al
  • + 1
 @WoodenCrow: it's possible to burp just about any tubeless setup if you ride hard enough or run too low of pressure
  • + 1
 @WoodenCrow: I haven't noticed it burp in 7 years. I think the rubber / rubber interface helps as they are both flexible as opposed to a rim which isn't.

You maybe able to burp at stoopid low pressures but your tyre would be horrible and rolly anyway. I usually run mine at 23f / 26r with no issues.
  • + 1
 @devin-m: Amen brother. It's a tired argument.
  • + 1
 @devin-m:

1 and 3 are actually very, very true, sorry.

One thing is the 1% downhill-enduro racer demands, which I can understand.
One other is the industry keeping on pushing new useless things to let the remaining 99% spend their money.
  • + 39
 A big thumb up for this RC. My biggest issue mountain biking has been denting rims and shredding sidewalls. I have probably spent more on wheels and tires in the last two years than most people here spend on their bikes Frown
  • + 1
 I hear ya man!!
  • + 2
 @cdmbmw If you have spent a lot of money, then you may be doing something wrong.
I'm 180 lbs and haven't changed tires in 1 whole year
Front: DHF EXO 3C 2.5" at 20 PSI
Rear: DHF EXO 3C 2.3" at 25 PSI
Wheels: Hope Pro 4 laced to Stan's Flow MKIII using Stan's race sealant
  • + 1
 @abzillah: I'm in the same boat as cdmbmw, and your setup would last me maybe a day or two.
I'm about 75 kg with gear, and I have to run heavy enduro casings or full on DH casings if I want more than a few rides on a set of tires.
  • + 2
 @Losvar: it seems that it is largely down to ridingstyle and terrain. i am not a particually slow or smooth rider -but i ve never run into problems with maxxis exo casing -its not very rocky around here i have to admit. obviously there are people who regularly kill exos in one ride. my first assumption is always that this person is either brutally fast or a hack -or both. also there a trails so rocky you cant actually pump and hop all big rocks -so not every exokiller is a hack but nevertheless i would not stretch it a far as saying current 1kg tires are too weak. If your a hack get the right tire -or learn to flow. If your tracks are brutal run brutal tires -same if you are brutally fast.
  • + 4
 @abzillah: then you don't ride much.
  • + 1
 @skelldify: tirelife 1 year normal -not ?
  • + 2
 Right there with you. Lots of rocks and roots where I ride. Last season went through 9 tubes. Switched to tubless with Highrollers with exo casings 30psi and pinch flatted 3 tires and dented my rims. Now I'm tubeless with a pool noodle in my tire running 23psi with zero problems in about 12 or so rides.
  • + 1
 @optimumnotmaximum: more like 6 months
  • + 3
 @skelldify: That may be true. I put in about 5000 miles since last August. I wonder how much more I should ride?
  • - 1
 @abzillah: Must be easy miles.
  • + 1
 @mollow: as always - it depends on rider and terrain. in my bikepark /DH-racing days i went through 4-5 sets easiely during one parkseason (6 months around here). in my old traildays a (maxxis trail) tire lasts about 12 months -ground is mostly soft not much rock -2 months riding is limited due to snow etc. in the remaining 10 months i ride about 100km trails a week -which i would not consider as "not much" -( kids, job , wife taken into account)
  • + 33
 Riders : We need better and stronger tires.
MTB Industry : Here's our newest thing... Plus sized tires!!! Thinner walls, less air used and the sidewalls protrude moar!!!

And the niche-hunters/first adopters eat that shit up.
Good job guys.
  • - 23
flag Thustlewhumber (Jul 27, 2017 at 15:23) (Below Threshold)
 Lower pressure, higher traction, better rollover, faster speed: plus tires will encompass everything everyone wanted in a tire. Unless, of course, you read that one review where someone got a flat with Schwalbe tires. Then you should generalize all plus tires and demonize anyone who rides them.
  • + 31
 @Thustlewhumber: sorry bud, + is for weekend warriors
  • + 14
 @Thustlewhumber: If everything you said was true, everyone who needs to go fast for a living should be riding then then?

That's why everyone riding in EWS and DH are running plus sized tires.

Please put down the plus sized koolaid.
  • + 9
 Riders: please make a magical tire that upholds impossible standards that no other tires are held to. it needs to weigh 800g, last forever, also be sticky, never puncture or tear, roll well, and also only cost $50. yeah, i'd say off the shelf, it needs to be able to survive under the fastest world cup riders.
  • - 6
flag Thustlewhumber (Jul 27, 2017 at 17:38) (Below Threshold)
 @onetrykid: I have ridden a 27.5+ for two years and I run 16/20psi, have higher traction, point and shoot rollover, carry higher speed, and I placed first in my age group for an enduro already this year on 3.0 Purgatories. I know a lot of downhill guys that have moved to plus tires too. Aggy also runs a plus bike.

The only flat I have gotten in those two years is on a Schwalbe Rocket Ron that I tried out which lasted about 2 weeks. I suggest you actually go ride one before you write them all off based on one review from two years ago.
  • + 9
 @Thustlewhumber:
Multiple flats on plus sized tires and not 2 years ago.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=82jOVRQoQJs&t=5m13s

Are you seriously telling me that plus sized tires are just as durable as tires with DH/"enduro" casings?
  • + 1
 @Thustlewhumber: do you wear a pocket protector?
  • + 1
 Well, not all "plus" tires are created equal. The supersized xc tires certainly don't get me going, but the 2.8 minions are pretty legit in loose terrain (granted they are more like 2.6's on sane width rims and weight 1kg). I run 26x2.8's and greatly prefer them to the magic Mary I had in the front before.
  • + 2
 2.8's???? Christ, what is happening to MTB
  • - 4
flag thenotoriousmic (Jul 29, 2017 at 5:16) (Below Threshold)
 why are we talking about plus tyre? They don't work and that's why nobody uses them.
  • + 1
 @onetrykid: Check out the Vee tires with "Synthesis" sidewalls. They are the most bomber tires I have seen. Looks like about 4 plys of Kevlar. I have used the Trax Fatty with great success. Cheers, Mate!
  • + 28
 As a mechanical engineer currently working CAD in the automotive industry, with a passion for MTB, I found this article truly inspiring. Instead of following design standards why not challenge them for the sake of improvement.
  • + 27
 ...or for the sake of a new standard.
  • + 18
 @nozes: I love the improvements in tire durability the new plus sized tire standard brought to the table.

/sarcasm just in case.
  • + 2
 @nozes: As another ME in automotive with a passion for MTB, I don't understand the hate around here for new standards. Nobody today, myself included, truly understands the chaos of the time before interchangeable parts. Imagine buying a 29er tire that didn't fit your 29er rim, but did fit some others, and having no way to tell beforehand if it would fit or not. Granted, duplicate standards for an identical function irks the hell out of me (looking at you, DM chainring standards).
  • + 21
 However flawed in some circumstances, modern tubeless tires have enabled me to ride over 1k miles a year in rocky terrain without a puncture or slice. I think for th average rider like myself, tires have improved greatly over the years. For the best of racers, it wI'll always be a balancing act of weight and durability. Other form of Motorsports have the same issue, just less noticeable due to have a throttle to compensate for increased weight.
  • + 3
 Agreed. I'm not terribly nice to my bike and the tires and rims are waaaay better than they use to. That being said, why not make them even better?
  • + 13
 I've found that double casing tires are pretty close to unbreakable. My girlfriend and I have destroyed a couple dozen tubeless tires (in the naughty corner-Schalbe and Continental. Apparently their Black Forest testing grounds don't have shale or granite rock gardens).

We run reinforced sidewall fronts (Maxxis EXO or Vittoria TNT) on the front and full-on double casing tires in the rear (WTB Enduro casing or Maxxis DoubleDown) and have had zero failures, even thrashing the tires in the Rockies and Southwest.

Modern car tires are just about flat proof, but take a car tire on a flinty or granite stewn gravel road and see what happens-it ain't pretty. The truck tires built to withstand that kind of abuse have 12 plies and are really, really expensive ($200-300 each).

If the auto industry (with waaaaaay more money and resources) can't do better than adding plies and rubber (Conti, Michelin and other tire brands that do car and bike tires put the smart folks in the motorized division-we get leftovers) I doubt that there's a good process for using aramid or other strong fibers to make a more bombproof tire casing that rolls well.

A tire using these kinds of materials would also likely be really, really expensive ($200-300 each). On a consumable item (the rubber of the tread would likely have to be the same, and isn't all that durable, especially on surfaces like shale, granite and slickrock) that strikes me as not worth the expense.
  • + 3
 +peleton7 last night was watching a doc about Concorde plane. That plane suffer a lot of tire problem cos his very high speed at landing and the heat itself...They add more plies to the tires making it very heavy. One day that heavy tire was cut during takeoff blowing the tire and making a massive strike onto the plane causing fuel tanks to literally explode,seconds later the plane was on top of a hotel near the airport...

I think is not and easy task to make a wheel bombproof,but new tire/rim combos works really well. I never puncture a Maxxis tubeless tire but other tires are smoking paper. I manage to dent the rim an then taking a flat but the tire always is OK. At 63 kg in dirty rocky terrain I destroyed 1 rear wheel per year in the last 5 years.
  • + 6
 @homerjm: Yeah, at 73 kg (160 pounds) I seem to wreck a rim every 2-3 years on rocky terrain (but I take winters off the bike and ski a lot). Built my girlfriend a set of wheels with DT 570s and they're stone reliable, but a little heavy.

RC mentions that nobody would want to ride stuff that won't break and I think that's what it comes down to. ALL brands of bike, tire, rim etc. fail from hard use (not abuse). I'll take pushing a 28-30 pound bike around to get 140-160mm of travel, hydro brakes, a dropper and wheels that don't grenade anytime they're pushed through a rock garden at speed. I wouldn't want a DH weight bike for everyday riding, even if the fail rate was zero.
  • + 1
 Agreed! There has been quite a lot of investment in improving the pneumatic tire for autos and they're fundamentally the same. I'm not sure you can expect MatB to solve this broken, in or outside the box.
  • + 12
 My Bontrager rims come with a molded plastic strip that sits into the rim and seals it all up. Really good solution, although no incorporated cushion *cogs start turning*.

I agree with the points in the article though. It seems mental to me to spend loads of money on rims, tyres and then have to spend more on these kind of inserts to make the very expensive wheel and tyre combo you've just bought work reliably. Bizarre.
  • + 1
 Incorporating foam into new tire or rim designs, it's exactly what I was hoping for. PB comment sections are always rowdy, so keep the ideas coming!
  • + 4
 Yeah the Trek tubeless system works really well. And they are making some great tires now too.
  • + 1
 Hey man, how do you remove that plastic strip? I'm flummoxed.
  • + 2
 @skelldify: Its not stuck down to the rim. I just got a screwdriver under it and levered it off like an old style plastic rim tape. Would stretch it too far though, not sure how much it would take before it snapped.
  • + 1
 @jeneson46: Cool man, thanks. That's kinda what I was thinking, but I was scared of stretching or breaking it.
  • + 8
 Well said!!! It's about time this long going issue is resolved with a proper solution. Rims should not be seen as a disposable, bank up a few dents and replace product but be seen as a structural long lasting part of a bike, the same as any frame, fork or any other component. Time the tyre and rim industry worked together on a new standard.... oh.... wait....hmmm
  • + 9
 This same argument could be used for toilet paper. Sometimes you do get rips and tears but at the end of the day it's the best its going to ever be. Maybe flats are just part of the game.
  • + 15
 Always double it over for 4ply. I like a good tread pattern too for grip. Brown fingers are not just part of the game.
  • + 2
 Gross. i was reading the comments while eating my breakfast. You ruined it.
  • + 1
 Do you work for the bike industry???
  • + 8
 Mmmm Motorbikes offroad have same problems, dakar motorbikes... 200kmh on rocks, tires demolished, cars same, bulletproof tires, not light!!! Simpy you cannot ban simple phisics, mtb cannot have 3kg tires, because you must push to rotate these tires, so is impossible that a 1kg tire resist allways, is not possible!!! Modern gravity mtb go faster like a motorbike You can limitate the risk, not eliminate forever
  • + 7
 Well, you know, in France we don't really have these problems because for some of us, we have a magic formula: we inject some melted Camembert cheese in the tires instead of rubber sealant.
It works perfectly, mostly if the Camembert is an original one, exclusively made in Normandie with raw milk.
(I tell you: it doesn't work with pale asian copies, believe me)

Many advantages:
1 - Punctures get deliciously smelly.
2 - Considering the smell, you can easily recognize your bike when one is lost among hundreds in bike parks.
3 - In case of bad crash alone in a lost mountain (it happened to me 2 weeks ago in Spain, where I broke my hand btw), you can easily survive until the rescue comes, as long as you've brought a french baguette of bread and a liter of (good) wine, of course.
4 - Camembert tastes much better than any rubber sealant, even if you don't particularly like Camembert.

PS: in Quebec they inject some Poutine cheese instead of Camembert, because the french Canadians are a bit touchy you know. But we're living in a free world, aren't we?
  • + 7
 When I first started riding mountain bikes I'd slash tires quite frequently. After doing that a handful of times line choice has improved and I've gotten smoother. Racing though... well that's risk management and taking risk that improve time also run the risk of a fall or bike failure.
  • + 14
 I'm still confused how a rim protector which staves off pinch flats between rim, tire, and rock stops you from riding past a sharp object and cutting your sidewall? Those are two different issues.
  • + 7
 been on hucknorris for a few months now. other than the valves being constantly clogged, the inserts are pretty amazing. can run tire pressures next to nothing and still havent had an issue with my rims. had cracked 2 nox rims in 3 months pre inserts. good to go now.
  • + 3
 So, these inserts are compatible with tubeless and sealant setups?
  • - 9
flag Lagr1980 (Jul 27, 2017 at 14:02) (Below Threshold)
 They will suck up all you tubeless fluid though
  • + 2
 @Lagr1980: isn't that a pretty major flaw?
  • + 9
 @Lagr1980: I've seen reviews where after x months of use, the huck norris weighed only 6 grams more. So, maybe they don't absorb much at all.
  • + 6
 @Lagr1980: no there's some on surface but it's closed cell.
  • + 2
 I echo this. But I haven't had issues with the valves clogging. Few major square edge hits, and no issues. Coming from 4 flats in 6 months to last month 0, its a nice change. Also I'm on a trail bike so they are still light enough.
  • + 12
 @Lagr1980: Hello. I'm one of the inventors of Huck Norris. Huck Norris is a closed cell foam which does not absorb any liquids. Only thing what happens is you get more surface where the sealant will stuck in.

If you have been using some cheap copys, they might suck the sealant like sponges and don't even save your rims or tires because the material does not absorb any forces.
  • + 2
 @Lagr1980: I was expecting to have no sealant left when I was changing on a new tyre but i had loads left. It only gets saturated on the outer surface so it accumulated only a few grams of sealant.
  • + 1
 why do you think your valve stems are getting clogged?
  • + 1
 @garrettstories: installing sealant through them would be my guess
  • + 1
 @garrettstories: My valve stems are fine so far. I often check them when I change the tires though. Usually there are some of the sealant which I remove by hand.
  • + 11
 No tubes, but always one in my bag !
  • + 8
 I haven't used my spare tube in my pack in a long time. But I always use my beer every ride and could use 1 more in the pack...
  • + 8
 this is so very typical of the mountain biking community, who want F1 levels of resources and engineering, but complain about how everything costs too much.
  • + 2
 I'd pay £1000 for indestructible tyres.
  • + 1
 @MacRamsay: I run the closest thing, some old school 26 x 3 Duro tires. Heavy as f*ck. But after more than 200 vertical kilometers of descending (not entirely on the same set of tires) in rocky alpine terrain on these I've only had one tiny puncture that sealed easily with sealant. Thought they were actually indestructible until I just recently had that small tear. Burly as hell, and never even brought a spare tube with me until now.

With current technology though, we should be able to have something as tough yet much lighter.
  • + 7
 I'm shocked they haven't yet invented solid air that doesn't leak. That aside, the guy who said run slightly higher pressures with tubeless is correct, these ain't trials bikes.
  • + 4
 10-15 years ago I would have agreed wholeheartedly with your rant, with tyres made of tissue and no inherent strength.

But now? Nope.

I bought into the UST system after trying the early tubeless conversion systems (which were a real hit/miss affair) and it was brilliant. Never had a problem running low pressures, rims were seemingly indestructible and the tyres stood up to a load of abuse. Admittedly I did use sealant but then everyone else who I knew with UST did too.

Currently running two bikes with Tubeless Ready wheels and tyres and they're great too. One has the Trek plastic rim strip system which is simple genius, a UST fixing but in a convertible form. No problems on that whatsoever, even with XC tyres on rocky terrain. The other is a taped version with EXO tyres and that withstands everything from rock-strewn trail centres to full-on uplift days without any issues.

So over the last 10 years I have had 0 tyres deflate mid-ride. No pinch flats, not tears or slashes to the sidewalls. I've had one rim dented after casing on a square-edged rock landing a drop at speed at Antur Stiniog but I didn't have to worry about it until I got home, even then it straightened out in 2 minutes. The only riders I know who do have tyre issues either ride heavily or make inappropriate tyre selections. Yes a super tyre made out of carbon-kevlar that weighs 500g and is indestructible would be great for some people but it would cost a fortune and that would mean it would be a commercial flop like UST. Just read the comments on here baulking at the price of the latest tyres that cost over £60/$80-90 and you'll see that the market for super-pricy tyres is low.

It all comes down to the tyre being the component that has to deal with being smashed over and into the terrain with nothing to save it, When you realise that it is being punished a whole lot more, even by the average rider, than it was 5 or 6 years ago it's frankly amazing it survives at all. IT can be made better but it's the best we've ever had, by a long way.
  • + 5
 ProCore is one easily clogged or broken valve stem away from being THE answer. 18 months of riding and my only complaint is the over engineered valve stem that has rendered both my inserts useless.
  • + 5
 Use a drill bit (with your fingers, not a power drill) to remove the dried sealant in the valve stem. The inserts can be saved. Procore is the best. I have used cushcore and hucknorris but return to Procore every time for easy tire swaps and the best rim protection. Peace!
  • + 1
 @mgs781HD: why would you say procore is a better solution than cushcore? Because it's tunable? Easier to install? Seems like cushcore would offer better protection at the same weight to me
  • + 1
 @mgs781HD: Done that a couple times. The one that's bent though... that's not repairable.

If I hadn't changed wheel sizes a couple weeks ago, I'd try drilling my rims for a 2nd valve stem and run a normal tube in the Procore.
  • + 1
 4 clogged procore tubes/valves, plus surgery involving taking the valve apart and using picks convinced me to move on to a foam insert. MUCH happier now. The worst is when the procore begins to clog, but is still usable, so you have inaccurate and super slow pumping in the car park.
  • - 2
 @mgs781HD: Dean-Easy beats procore for a simple fact: it works on a very same principle as procore but doesn't make rims explode and doesn't fk up the spoke tension, because it's a inner tube that is an actual tubular tyre inside a clincher tyre and it does not expand much. Whereas procore is effectively a tube inside a clincher tyre inside a clincher tyre. So if all bike rims barely take 40psi, when you pump procore tube to 60-70, you are asking yourself for trouble
  • + 2
 Never used a tire insert but the pro core on my downhill sled is awesome!
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: force on the rim is proportional to pressure AND surface area... a 2.4" tire at 40psi is not the same as a 1" tire at 40psi -- ride your road bike at 40psi and you'll see why. How do you think fat bikes get away with 5-8psi? Almost any (I'd say all) MTB rims can handle a Procore at 75psi.
  • - 8
flag gts944 (Jul 27, 2017 at 19:23) (Below Threshold)
 @buster-and-bailey: PSI is PSI. Pounds per square inch. It's a unit of pressure. Tire diameter is irrelevant.
  • + 3
 @adamotocross48: Much easier to change tires on Procore because you can deflate the inner chamber. Cushcore is a struggle to both mount and dismount tires in comparison.
  • + 5
 @gts944: you wrote it yourself - pounds per SQUARE INCH. The pressure is the same, but with a bigger diameter the force gets bigger.
  • + 3
 I haven't tried CushCore or any of the other inserts, aside from Procore, so I can't compare. But I have been using Procore for the last 1.5 years or so and am very happy with it.

Originally had it on a 26" aluminum wheeled (Loaded AMX) freeride bike (G-Spot), which I rode the crap out of, no flats after installing the Procore, no clogged or bent stems.
Now I also have it on a 27.5" carbon wheeled (Nobl) Santa Cruz Nomad (2016), which I am also riding the crap out of. So far no flats & no clogged or bent stems.

Again, very happy with the Procore system.
Also, you can often see the difference in grip between my tires & my riding buddies (who don't have Procore). They will generally skid down rock slabs in Squamish with the back tire locked... While the lower tire pressures I can run allows my bike to grip without skidding on the same rock slabs.
  • + 3
 @SleepingAwake :
We all agree, force is bigger if surface is bigger for same pressure.

But putting a 1" or 3" tire on a rim doesn't change how many Square inches of the rim take the pressure : it's still the inside of walls and the surface where you put the tape (sorry, bad words).

This is also why the max authorized pressure for a rim isn't indicated for a given tire size.

@buster-and-bailey :
You're talking about the interface with the ground with your example. Waki talks of pressure on the rim.
  • + 2
 I have ProCore on two bikes. Really pleased . I have no issue with spoke tension. I guess an advantage against Huck Norris is that the tire won't burp even if I run really low pressure.
  • + 4
 @Uuno: simply not true. Most MTB rims don't state pressures for a 1" tire because, well, who does that? But some companies do. Do you really think that road rims designed to take 120psi in a 1" tire are built 3x stronger than a DH MTB rim rated to 40 psi?

For example:

www.eastoncycling.com/media/Easton%20Rim%20pressure.pdf

Gauge pressure is absolutely different from force on the tire -- the whole tire, not just at the interface to the rim. Again, if you don't believe me (or physics), put 40 psi in your 2.4" MTB and then 40 psi in your 1" road tire, and after you go ride then tell me which one is 'firmer'.
  • + 1
 @buster-and-bailey: I don't know about rim strength for 40 or 120psi, I've never seen a rim fail because of that, I don't use procore, and I didn't say my MTB will fail with procore.

Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen charts like that before.

Again, the MTB tire with 40psi will feel different because it has a bigger surface touching the ground etc.
Still not related to pressure that the rim takes, the comparison with the feeling of a 1" 40psi tire is irrelevant.

One question : so you're saying surface area of the rim changes with a different tire? Since you said "force on the rim is proportional to pressure AND surface area" (and I agree with that)
  • + 0
 @buster-and-bailey: you are absolutely right when it comes to volume and pressure relation, but I've seen a rim destroyed by procore with my own eyes and know about a few more getting messed up, particularly carbon rims. I also heard a mechanic talking about needing to retension the wheel after installing procore. Which is not really a 1" wide rather 1,5" or bigger. 7 bars in a clincher tyre is like good luck to your rim. If it was tubular like dean easy, it would be a whole another story
  • + 1
 @Uuno: look, if you want a more mathematical answer, Lennard Zinn did a good job explaining why lower pressures must be used as you increase tire width. It's the exact same principle going the other way -- narrower tires require higher pressures.

www.velonews.com/2017/03/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq-science-tire-pressure-rim-width-heat-buildup_433214
  • + 1
 @SleepingAwake: Eh, not quite correct. P = F / A. Pressure is inversely proportional to area. As the area increases, pressure is lower for the same force. What really matters is tension, which is directly proportional to radius and pressure and inversely proportional to thickness - Laplace's law.

Geez, lots of downvotes for some basic physics.

Edit: Enjoyed the article by Zinn
  • + 4
 People are just stuck in a mentality that their bike should make up for their lack of skill and create problems that shouldn't exist to fuel an industry based in "innovations" that have more problems than the methods that have worked for years....
  • + 4
 RC, I appreciate you calling out tire manufacturers for their seemingly status quo engineering and manufacturing processes, but surely we all know that a very good reason tires aren't made stronger, more durable, and longer lasting is because they then wouldn't require replacing as often as they do.

It's the one thing on a bike that must to be replaced once, twice, even thrice a season for some riders. Where's the incentive for tire makers to kill that Golden Goose?

Cynical? Yes, but most likely the actual culprit here.
  • + 3
 I´m using ProCore since a while and must say it just works exactly as advertised. It is significantly heavier tho and pretty much a hassle to set up. Plus everyone says the valves clog up, which hasn´t happened to me yet, but I shall see.
  • + 3
 I don't understand why there isn't a tire with extra material above the bead (internally) to protect the rim and subsequently the tire as well similar to how low-profile car tires have the extra rubber that protrudes from the sidewall next to the bead to protect the rim in the event of a flat. I pinch flat tubeless tires all the time and usually dent the rim while running 31-33 psi in the rear of a 2.4-2.5 tire and 30mm ID rim. I then have to use automotive patches near the bead as well as somewhere on the casing near the treads.
  • + 6
 There are many tires with such reinforcements. The vast majority of heavy-duty DH and enduro tires include what is called a butyl insert above the bead which acts as a rim cushion in addition to providing sidewall support for aggressive cornering. It's literally a thick strip of rubber that sits between the casing plies to cushion the tire against the rim. We use butyl inserts in our DoubleDown and DH-Casing tires and so do many of our peers in their comparable enduro and downhill focused constructions.
  • + 1
 @Maxxis: Thanks for the reply. I didn't realize there was additional, isolated protection in the very spot I was referring to on the DD casing tires. Imagine the money I would have saved if I just used one of those in the rear for the past couple years... I better whip out the Discover card, again.
  • + 3
 "Casings that can’t be torn: Hate to break it to you, but rubber is not armor. Same goes for polyester and nylon. There are a number of fabrics available off the shelf that don’t abrade, and that can stop shattered glass, sharp knives, micro-meteorites, and bullets. Rubber is the heaviest component of a wheel. The only place it should be used is for the tread and to seal the tire. A tubeless tire should never suffer a sidewall tear."

To say that fabrics are available that don't abrade is incorrect. All high-performance fabrics will be susceptible to abrasion to a greater or lesser extent which is where the rubber coating comes in on the outside. These high-performance fabrics (Vectran, Aramids, Dyneema etc) are also so expensive that we'd be looking at tyres being significantly more expensive than they already are. This might be fine for racing but for me I don't want to spend £100 per disposable tyre to mitigate against the risk of a side wall slash which happens rarely to me (following a phase experimenting with too-light tyres). In the case of a side wall slash nowadays I'm prepared to fit a tube and sidewall sleeve (toothpaste tube & duct tape) and enter limp-home mode. Also, in terms of density rubber is barely any heavier than any of these high-performance fabrics although they obviously use more rubber.
  • + 2
 @jemima, I understand that the costs of using engineered materials would result in higher priced tires, but if you add the price of an insert to the tire, it's already $160 USD - that's a lot of wiggle room to experiment with better options. The end result would probably be a less expensive hybrid fabric, because the vulcanizing step required to bond fabric to rubber dictates using materials that lend themselves to that process. My point is simpler: You have to try before you can succeed. A $500 racing only tire that succeeds is cheap when you are paying out upwards of two million dollars a year to get your racers and their equipment to survive a four minute decent. Dropping the price is the easy part.
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: I enjoyed your article. I love it how you will let the bike industry have it. I wish more stories on pinkbike wood open people's eyes to all this industry BS. Thanks for stirring the turd Richard. Maybe you can poke some of your other fellow writers at pinkbike to get a little thicker skin and tell it how it really is. Maybe next year we will all be running around on unflattable rubber. I highly doubt it but if it happens I will credit it to you.
  • + 5
 F*#k yeah! Do everything he said and charge me $150 for a tire! I'm bitching but if they did I'd probably spring for it. Until then I like my Huck Norris insert.
  • + 4
 No chance, $80 is already too rich for my blood and being as I'm a mere mortal, I've suffered maybe 3 tubeless flats in 6+ years of running tubeless, so flats are really a none issue for me.
  • + 2
 The answer to all your problems came out 11 years ago Wink almost seems like it was ahead of it's time, but it was also way too heavy and the rim insert was PVC and not foam: www.pinkbike.com/news/THE-Eliminator-rim.html
  • + 2
 I am going to try and make my own tire insert, doesn't seem to hard. You can buy cylindrical pieces of foam and just cut them to the circumference of the wheel. Worst case it doesn't help that much (I don't see how soft foam could hurt the tire or rim), best case it acts just like any other tire insert buy only costs $3 instead of $80.
  • + 2
 How would you attach the two ends together?
  • + 1
 I've made them out of pipe insulation (works well but doesn't last long), and cheap camping sleeping pads (lasts longer but sucks up all the sealant even with closed cell foam). Ended up with huck norris on the xc bike, great for lower pressure in the front 28ish, but still need 34 in the back on a DD aggressor to keep it from burping air during slashes. Kind of defeats the purpose of it when running that much pressure on DD tires.
  • + 2
 @ibishreddin: haven't decided yet but if you get tubing that is 2" or larger diameter you shouldn't need to attach the ends because the foam ends would have nowhere to go.
  • + 1
 @Kitejumping: I am a bigger guy (210lbs) and I run similar pressures, thank you for the info. Did you ever try a higher density foam? It wouldn't make a difference for burping but might yield less tire pressure needed I would assume.
  • + 3
 @ibishreddin: Product idea: a die to cut a keyed shape out of your foam. Maybe an arrow shape.

Die cut one end of your foam, wrap your rim, mark the overlap, die cut the other end. Link the ends. Ride your bike.

I'll collect my royalty on a biannual basis.
  • + 3
 @MisterChow: so a knife? hahahaha
  • + 3
 @Macdady: Put in a box and say it'll help you climb better and watch the money roll in!!!
  • + 3
 @MisterChow: hahaha right you are
  • + 2
 @ibishreddin: Duct tape. Fixes everything
  • + 2
 @Macdady: The camping foam worked really well, it just absorbed all the sealant. After trashing a tire rode it down on the foam once and didnt do any damage to the rim.
  • + 1
 @Kitejumping: what about adding a thin outer plastic tube layer around the closed cell foam? Don't know how the plastic layer would curve though
  • + 1
 @ibishreddin: used duct tape to seal it off, but as soon as you have a rim strike that needs the foam, it cuts a hole in the tape and the sealant gets absorbed inside.
  • + 1
 Foam for AC line sets is seamless and more durable then the generic pool noodle type foam, any plumbing wholesaler should carry it. For example in Canada Wolseley mechanical
  • + 1
 @tigerteeuwen: thanks man! I will look into that.
  • + 2
 @Kitejumping: Maybe some leather shoe sealant type product could prevent the sealant being soaked up, at least temporarily anyway i reckon.
  • + 2
 @Hockerz: maybe if you LineX the role too it would stop it from soaking the sealant up.
  • + 2
 @Hockerz: what about the spray you use for weather proofing hiking boots?????
  • + 1
 @tigerteeuwen: good idea
  • + 2
 Also, gotta protect those extra-pricey carbon rims. What's an extra $500 on a $2000 wheelset for a protective system, right?

Tire treads also wear out, in case anyone forgot while busy worrying about their sidewalls. Will a new "system" insert stop the $80 tire from hitting the bin with useless thrashed knobs any quicker?
  • + 2
 I think the idea was to allow the tires to last until they are worn out, instead of throwing away 1 week old tires because of a sidewall slice. If treads aren't wearing, they aren't working.
  • + 2
 Tyres AND rear mechs - incredibly obvious flaws in our "mountain bikes" that need to withstand crazy forces and impacts all over...

...Oh wait, we have solutions: gearboxes and tyre inserts! Let's wake up and invest in the right equipment and not keep throwing our hard-earned cash at the currently popular (pathetic) drivetrain and tyre manufacturers.
  • + 3
 Weight is the ultimate deciding factor. Unless you can invent lighter and more efficient alternatives, the pneumatic tire and rear der are going to keep on going for the next hundred years.
  • + 5
 @blackthorne: just built a Zerode Taniwha. It's come up lighter than the alloy AM rig it replaces. I was expecting more drag but can't really feel any even spinning in the street, just a slight whir from the gearbox which overtime will bed in to be even more silky smooth, I think its a nice quirk too. For all-mountain riding I have to say its a near-perfect solution. The only downsides just for arguements sake is price and the engagement speed but even then its hardly an issue. I've been blown away by the smoothness of the suspension too.
  • + 3
 @dwojo: man, you just reminded me how much i want one of those. It's like the oil industry: until the big players get on board, viable alternatives are going to evolve as fast as a hamster in treacle. You make it sound like gearboxes are getting closer to being on point.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: yeah I was expecting way more compromise but it's just been gravy
  • + 2
 @dwojo: Gripshift though. Shame.
  • + 1
 @blackthorne: the only thing i can say to that is, I'll still be riding my ever-so-slightly heavier bike when others are stopping to fix punctures and potentially walking home with a mashed rear mech that has folded into the wheel.
  • + 1
 @MacRamsay: find me a trigger shifter i can stick on a pinion (i got confused investigating the possibility - it can apparently be done but you need a PhD in cable actuation wankery) and I'm in. Last shuttle-powered weekend I had saw my mech and chain merging with my spokes half way through the first day.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: the gripshift isn't so bad - I had reservations myself, but test rode it before taking the plunge. Haven't looked back. Sure, it's a bit awkward trying to shift when hitting rough stuff, but it all comes down to timing... Being able to shift multiple gears in one movement without the need to turn the cranks to engage, means you can shift at points where you wouldn't with a traditional system, and it's always immediately engaged as soon as you lay down the pedal power! I've never had an accidental shift either. Hopefully there will be a viable trigger for pinion soon, but I bet that some will still prefer the gripshift... I'd certainly be interested in trying a trigger on it.
  • + 1
 @MacRamsay: I had some Sachs Wavey grips a significant number of years ago. There's a reason i switched back to triggers, but I can't remember why. Possibly unwanted shifting, but I can't be certain.
Some dude in a shed may have already come up with a trigger. I think I saw some for an Effigear somewhere.
  • + 3
 If you think locking tire beads are the future, you haven't ever tried to get your tire off Trailside with a locking rim. With my wtb St i23 I have to use clamps to get the bead off.
  • + 1
 what tires? I've no trouble w/ Maxxis (both on ST-ixx and Asym ixx). Schwalbe require some strong thumbs. Haven't tried WTB tires yet but those might be tight.
  • + 2
 Very nice article. I have observed a lack of investment into R&D in many industries that have to compete with, or are mostly are, Chinese. Change by Chinese manufacturers is only done because of a large customer request, or because everyone else had done it already. This sets a low bar for the whole industry. It what happens if your culture never had an enlightenment. Recently I had some students improve a Sturmey Archer great hub product and offered the results to the company in Taiwan for free. I didn't even get a response!
  • + 2
 Excellent piece Richard Cunningham. Definitely time for tyre tech to catch up. I would love to see mountain bike companies spend more energy on real development and better products and less on marketing BS, incremental change and unecessary new 'standards'.
  • + 2
 I ride Keystone in CO all the time with many rocky areas. I've broken spokes off and dinged my rims (Mavic 729) but i've never gotten a flat. Mavic 729 may be the magic behind this though cuz my back wheel started to come apart coming down the mountain one time and I basically had to rebuild my wheel at the bottom and the rim was still perfect even with 1/3 of the spokes hanging out. After that ordeal I bought another set of 729s best rim ever.

Live on 26ers
  • + 2
 Seems like mountain-biking needs to stop with evolution of their components and do a real revolution. Almost every moving part has some issues that could be avoided using a completely different design, a new standard (dont go mad, not talking about PF brackets, boost or Metric shocks). You can justify making a new standard only if it offers a huge advantage to the previous design. A thing like that in the making is probably a gearbox instead of the normal drivetrain but for now its a bit on the heavy side and has more resistance. Hopefully the companies would sit together and think of solutions to make things easier for them and us.
  • + 4
 They won't, because they're quite happy raping our pockets for replacement parts. And we're seemingly quite happy to let them... Tyres and drivetrains are the obvious let downs for sure, on bikes that are otherwise pretty damn robust for conquering mountains.

I'm delighted to be running a Pinion gearbox. It's a thing of dreams. Yeah it's a tad heavier (yet actually a benefit in some ways) and the resistance disappears altogether after a few hundred miles once it beds in.

Imagine if the Pinion gearbox had been in development for as long as, and had the same investment as, the rear mech... just imagine.
  • + 1
 @MacRamsay: Great to hear that about Pinion. Tires are a pain in the ass for more or less everybody. If you run tubeless you'll cut it if you run tubes you'll sooner or later pinch it. I don't know why aren't tire designers using technology from motorbikes or cars, it's not perfect but could be better. At least Schrader is less fragile than Presta.

But on the complete bike there are some little things that would make life easier and lenghten the lifetime of components like RockShox's sag meter or Fox putting teflon washers on mounts for rear shox to prevent them from being destroyed by a frame that isn't precisly straight (wich happens and i have had a destroyed shock for that reason and also know a few others with same issues).
  • + 5
 RC: I'm unclear why UST was a fail? Certainly tubeless has been a YUGE improvement.
  • + 1
 UST means tubeless by not drilling the rim bed which calls for funny screw in spoke nipples and funny spokes. It still exists but most people opt for a normally drilled rim with a rim strip to do the sealing of the rim as it is a cheaper, lighter, less proprietary system that does the job of keeping air in a tire just as well.
  • + 6
 UST didn't take over the market as it should have. It was too big of a jump from the tubes everyone was running back then, tire/rim choices were limited, and required a $$$ buy-in. The shitty half-step 'tubeless ready' tires were an easier pill to swallow for the poor and the skeptical... and they were lighter! 15 years later we're left with a mess of mediocre tire choices and no real bead standard.
  • + 3
 Not to answer for RC, but UST itself has been pretty universally ignored. UST requires a specific bead/rim interface (see the video in the article), and requires the tire itself to be self-sealing (the "goo" is embedded in the tire). The industry has largely moved past UST and on to "tubeless-ready", with either a hookless rim, or a small standard bead hook, and light tire casings that require separate tubeless fluid.
  • + 3
 Correct me if i'm wrong, but i think it was because an official ust rim cannot have spoke holes in the rim bed. Other manufacturers besides Shimano and Hutchinson didn't want to play along as a result.
  • + 7
 @freestyIAM: my UST ex823's are in no way a fail, extremely solid and with maxxis 2.4 DH casings at anywhere from 27/29psi front and 28/31psi rear and stans sealant have never burped air. they dont make them anymore but if they did i wouldnt buy anything else. i have them on 2 dh bikes and my AM/"enduro" bike, and with 3 spares i hope to be running them for a longgg time.
  • + 6
 No fail in my book. I started with UST right when they came out and am still running them as long as I can find tires (26" BTW). No sealant either. Flats are rare to non-existent. Holds air beautifully.

Dumping a bunch of goo into a tire has to be one of the biggest hacks ever. Once I can't find UST tires, I'm going back to tubes.
  • + 1
 @Ron-C: WTB made (maybe they still do?) rims that kept the rim profile with the all important square bead channel, but with normal drilling. With tape to seal up they were always as secure as 'proper' UST rims with UST tyres. I got the impression UST never took off because it meant paying to get the product verified.
  • + 1
 @whitebullit: Agreed.

My deemax with maxxis UST was the best setup I have ever run. Even if you did cut the tire with a rock and get a flat the tire would stay seated onto the rim and you could finish off the trail without damage to the rim.

Also would set up with a floor pump every time no problem at all.
  • + 7
 UST was a great design but it failed because its creators believed that the tire's internal rubber liner was enough to seal the tubeless tire. For two years years, UST tire makers warned against using sealant, claiming that it would cause delamination of the rubber layers. UST's internal rubber sealing layer added weight, while offering no defense against pin-punctures, and, because rubber (butyl) is actually permeable to air, they leaked down.

Retailers and OEM bike makers balked at UST because it soon became clear that liquid sealant was the key to tubeless success. Back yard inventor Stan Kositack's Notubes tubeless system proved otherwise - that almost any tire could be adapted to tubeless and seated on an ordinary rim, It was the turning point for tubeless that ultimately debunked the delamination story and produced a lighter weight, self-sealing system that retained air longer than tube type tires. We call it "tubeless ready" now.

UST's lasting contribution is the rectangular bead seal and the insistence that UST rims conform to the UST bead profile and seat diameter - a superior system that WTB has adopted across its tubeless ready range.

That's the long version.
  • + 0
 UST was a great engineering idea : the rim is sealed without any tape. But it causes major difficulties in terms of manufacturing since you can't use regular nipples on your rim, and pieces of metal can be trapped : Mavic spokes are screwed directly in the rim. That's why only Mavic and Shimano made (and still make) UST wheels : they have the mean of production to built such complicated design.

The Notubes design allowed lots of other wheel maker to produce tubeless rims : Spank, WTB.... But this system requires fussing with tapes. And since tolerances are not as strict as UST, you have some tire-rim combo that are really tight and some that are really loose.
  • + 1
 @MtbSince84: The funny thing about this article is that three days ago on Sped Carbon wheels, people were arguing about the need for hooks
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: ust specific tires may have been the fail there, not rims. like i said i run UST rims with regular maxxis dh casing tires and zero issues. i wish mavic would pick this back up, i hate rim tape Frown
  • + 3
 @jouly: "Dumping a bunch of goo into a tire has to be one of the biggest hacks ever"

Disagree, that goo has saved my ass many times. From fixing small punctures in the road instantly to sealing up a large gash in the tire enough for me to continue riding all day. Orange seal I love u
  • + 1
 @puttsey: orange seal makes the biggest tire balls of them all
  • + 6
 Preach brother preach!!!!!
  • + 2
 Over time, if you really want to figure it out...any rider know which tires/casings match up best with the rims they run for a better bead seal, at the tire pressure they like.
Rim design, tire bead design and pressure dictate the strength of the seal. You can get away with riding on a poor
tire/rim matchup by running higher pressure, but when you want to run lower pressures the rim design you run
will dictate what tires you should buy IF you want a better bead seal.
i learned that the loss of tire pressure from burps, was due to wrong tire/rim matching, (poor bead sealing).
simple truth is you cant just go out and buy any tire and expect it too seal up with your rims, whether
you run ust, ghetto, or whatever.
  • + 2
 Funny, I just got a new set of rims as a result of damage to my stock setup. I'd like to run lower pressure but would hopefully avoid damaging the new set of $1000+ wheels. I am just in the process of ordering up some Hucks.
I simply cannot justify the weight and cost of the cushcores, even the Hucks seem expensive for what is basically a styrofoam liner. I get that its "engineered" closed cell material blah blah, but come on.
  • + 1
 "They play video games with powerful Finite Element Analysis software to optimize materials and experiment with shapes to counter stress, both real and imagined."

As probably any design engineer will tell you, refining the design of anything using FEA is far from playing video games. A single FEA simulation can take hours or days to perform depending on the mesh size and each time you tinker with the shape or dimensions, you have to re-mesh and re-run the simulation and do this for each load scenario/test case. Perhaps designing the wheels using CAD tools is more likened to playing video games, but I assure you, FEA is far from it.
  • + 4
 Point missed.
  • + 1
 Maybe we are at fault, for bitching about every gram, while asking for cheapness and perfect reliability. We've repelaced the steel bead wire with fabric, we remove layers of the casing, we make rims super anemic, and then we wonder why tires puncture. Just use dual plys with decent pressure and you wouldn't have any issues... Our current selection of tires is just too light for the job at hand - and we ignore the proper choice out there. A comparable motocross tire is much, much heavier, and that does translate into more reliability. If you think about it, the forces on a motorcycle arent that much higher than what we subject our bicycles to....
  • + 1
 Never steer around rocks. Hulk smash only.

The mighty engineers can go about chasing tire solutions while the rest of us are out riding.

"A Cry for Help"- spare us the ridiculous dramatics. Perhaps if Gwin had ridden a little lighter through the section he flatted in Lenz, he'd be a better racer, and won.
  • + 1
 Anyone remember from like 15 years ago, a company called Toby hansen enterprise (THE)?

They released a rim that had a raised center section, that was meant to help stop pinch flats.

Everyone complained it was too heavy I think. But I can't remember what they were called or find any pictures of them.
  • + 1
 Go to your local hardware store > get some foamy pipe insulation > cut it to snuggly fit the rim > mount your tire > add "milk" > there you have it: your DIY Huck Norris/FTD for approx. $4!!! Gave it a try a few weeks ago, went for several rides and won't ride tubeless without it any more!
Don't get fooled (too much) by marketing bla bla....
  • + 5
 Thirty years..treading the same old path.
  • + 1
 Cost of advanced tires would be a hurdle. But in terms of durability all reports I've read of Conti's Black Chili compound have confirmed much longer tread life. If both the tread and sidewall could be made to last 2x as long, tires that address RC's points would seem to make sense even if they cost 1.5 - 2x as much?
  • + 1
 THANK YOU for calling this out @RichardCunningham!!! To the Pressure Balancing Act/ gambling game: What about a thin layer of foam woven into the tire construction - between the tread layer and base layer? Acting as a lower pressure layer to maintain grip/trail damping, with the ability to run high pressure in the tire to protect rim / minimize pinch flats. Would add a little weight and expense... and could such a built-in layer of foam maintain it's integrity / turgidity under repeated rock strikes? Function kinda like ProCore... but without complicated, heavy separate chambers. Kinda like Huck Norris/CushCore... but woven right into the tire, to put the low pressure in contact with ground where you want it -- while running higher inner pressure to prevent rim strikes. Maybe have to use in conjunction with Huck for better benefit? Could such a foam layer be designed thick enough to absorb vertical impacts effectively enough to improve grip, without suffering from the dreaded 'floppy joe' low-pressure vagueness? ***This Doesn't address torn sidewalls (kevlar, carbon... there's gotta be SOMEthing. Why didn't WTB's "Inner Peace" take off?)
  • + 4
 Waiting for that new airless tire thingy to drop a promo on pinkbike in 3 2 1...
  • + 4
 Installed cushcores last weekend at angelfire and they work as promised! They are a pain in the dick to install though!
  • + 1
 I'm running CushCore also, and it took me 10 minutes per tire to install, so not much more than a normal tubeless tire install. What tires and rims are you running? I could see narrower rims or wire beads making it pretty difficult.
  • + 1
 @m-t-g: What tires are you guys using?
  • + 1
 @BDKR: Maxxis EXO, TR
  • + 1
 @BDKR: maxxis wide trails! Dhf!
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham , (insert clapping) you deserve a medal or something my friend! This is another truly marvelous piece, up there with your call for wider rims (one of my all-time fav's from 2011):
www.pinkbike.com/news/Tech-Tuesday--Wider-Rims-Are-Better-and-Why-Tubeless-Tires-Burp-.html

Lets keep calling for these changes, maybe years from now, the industry will get it: forums.mtbr.com/downhill-freeride/rims-downhill-wider-better-tubeless-wth-superglue-690136.html
  • + 2
 What if tires came with a thicker band of rubber on the inside around both sides maybe about three quarter inch wide sitting about a quarter inch or up from bead? Would that solve a lot of this with minimal weight gain?
  • + 2
 I run Duro Leopard tires that have probably been around for a decade. They have this high tech "pinch flat bumper" and "double bead lock" design basically like you're describing. Bottomed them out many dozens of times on sharp ass rocks on my hardtail, and no pinch flats or rim dents yet.
  • + 1
 @Kyle201: Thanks. Hmmm...That's interesting.
  • + 3
 Locking Beads? Really? So you wanna have to take your mtb tyres to get mounted every time you need to change them like a car tyre?

I'll pass on that.
  • + 1
 Good timing on the article. I was going mental thinking I was a hack or something but this seems to be a common problem. I just spent three days riding in Pemby and had to fix a frickn flat every trail. I tried everything. Higher psi, lower. Played with rear shock settings.Even had to buy a new tire at the lbs to keep the week going.
  • + 1
 The sad thing here is that there is no traction without deformation so using higher pressure to keep the tire on the wheel is bad for traction even though it's good for maintaining bead and a measure of protection. This we know right?

So why does it work for cars and motorcycles? Weight and energy. They weigh a lot more, go a lot faster (a lot more energy), and need to deform less.

DH and Enduro bikes are a lot lighter and go a lot slower so technology has some work to do to figure out how to maintain bead while running the lower pressures we need for deformation and compliance.
  • + 1
 As always, Richard C. articles are a whole load of crap. Sorry to say that bud, nothing personal. For me this is a miserable attempt to convince me to buy something to solve a problem I don't have. Have been riding for 15+ years and since tubeless tires, I never had lots of problems with punctures and sh*t. And to be honest, even when I used those heavy butyl tubes, punctures were just part of the show.

Come on, people are being nazis with standarts, technologies, carbon fiber, electronic this, electronic that, dish plate cogs here, e-bike koms there..... and a lot of other crap, then, they forget to ride. Or better, to enjoy the ride.

Richard, my personal advice for you. Remember the old times, when you were not an industry c*nt and just rode your bike because you loved it. That old times when you were a kid, left home with a 20inch wheel bike, not tubes, no spares, no bullshit. You rode for hours, got a puncture far away, had to walk home, but still had a blast.
Come on, stop being a dick.

Cheers
  • + 4
 i can't see where RC was "being a dick," whether one agrees with him or not. You on the other hand...take it easy. Fine if you don't agree with him, but it is possible to disagree and still be congenial.
  • + 3
 Kevlar. Are you talking about Kevlar? I think he's talking about Kevlar... Can someone make some Kevlar tires?? Perhaps weaved with carbon fiber?
  • + 2
 How about getting some Graphene in there too? That should help! Oh wait, Vittoria did it already and nobody noticed... GRAPHENE & KEVLAR for the win!!
  • + 2
 @MacRamsay: Vittoria Mezcal's are the bomb!
  • + 4
 Kevlar has been in tires for decades.
  • + 2
 This is on point. Kudos RC. I've said it before--it makes no sense that we can get a rocket ship to space but we still can't keep air in a bicycle tire.
  • + 2
 I say there is something wrong with the DH Tires that Aaron was using. The tires couldn't hold up. Maybe he should switch to Maxxis...
  • + 6
 It pretty much is a Maxxis tire...the casing is almost identical.
  • + 4
 @zutroy: I think those tires are made by Maxxis anyway
  • + 1
 He was blacking out the the maxxis logo on the sidewalls of his tires until basically this year.
  • + 4
 @EnduroManiac: That they are.
  • + 1
 Something's "wrong" with his speed and aggressiveness, no other tires in MTB world are pushed so hard, it's not a surprise they fail under him
  • + 0
 Great article I thought. Why not Kevlar casings? Why not Kevlar and carbon fiber cloth layered casings? I don't know much as I'm not a materials engineer. But it seems they could fix the sidewall tearing issues. I ran mavic EN 821 rims for three years and beat the stuffing out of them. They still held air fine. When I went to rebuild my wheels Mavic had discontinued selling UST rims. WTF? So I bought Spank spikes and called it a day. Hope they hold up to my beating on them every day. We'll see. Too tired to comment more. I'll just ramble.
  • + 2
 Sweet lord think of the tyre pricing if they add carbon cloth as a layer
  • + 3
 kevlar and carbon are wayyyy more rigid than nylon and polyester. That's a main issue when you want supple casing to improve efficiency and comfort. And kevlar suffers from low shear resistance, which mean than in case of pinching you are close to nylon anyway. Everything in engineering is compromise. There is no unicorn in real life, only narwhal.
  • + 1
 @Mac-Aravan: I've seen Kevlar cloth as supple as a cotton tshirt which would make a good base or mid guard layer but the cost would be scandalous
  • + 1
 Has anyone tried out the energy return wheel system? www.energyreturnwheel.com/ERW-Bicycle.aspx
It looks like it's only available in 26" or 29r sizes. It's priced like a nice set of Enve carbon rims.
  • + 1
 how could those possibly not squirm & roll sideways under hard corners/botched landings?
  • + 1
 @Tetravolta: That guy's been around for a while now. Total snakeoil, they have a few "prototypes", but nothing that actually works. If you look at their marketing material you'll realize they don't have a clue what they are talking about.
  • + 2
 Richard Cunningham: I'm sure you know your stuff, but please, I'm begging you, go take a journalism course, urgently. "Disparaging sidewall cuts?" What the actual f*ck?
  • + 1
 Another for the list, is air really the only option to keep a tire in form and performing? Any reason why air-less tires haven't been rolled out? Would love to hear feedback on this
  • + 0
 Using procore for a while and so glad I did spend 150€.

Besides using lower pressures (50 to 60% less) increasing traction and feeling, reduced to zero: flats, burps and all the problems. And it is so fun running 13psi (front) in the wet (used to run 35psi)

After a year in use ditched tubes and still without problems (let's see for the following years).
  • + 3
 I ran 0.5 psi on my front tyre, get on my level
  • + 1
 Spot on RC, thanks for publishing your opinion on the subject. Hopefully there will be a positive follow up in a few years that profiles subsequent advancement.
  • + 1
 I think the Huck Norris guys seem like a good crew with a good attitude....but has anyone on earth actually decreased pinch flatting from that insert? I sure haven't.
  • + 3
 This guy needs to chill out and go ride his bike !!
  • + 1
 the problem with tyre inserts is, that they are essentially pool noodles but because they are marketed towards cyclists the price increases 30 times.
  • + 0
 Excellent article RC, I'm so glad this was written.

Hopefully some rim / tire manufacturers join forces and create an actual solution soon instead of this overpriced foam-and-goop nonsense.
  • + 2
 can't wait for the tire innovations... Just like all the recent innovations that make a decent bike $3k plus bucks.
  • - 1
 If you put a tube and more air in your tire it just about stops pinch flats. As far as traction goes, you get use to it. I ride at about 55lbs rear and 45-50 front and I get less flats than my friends (in extremely rocky areas of Annadel) with tubless/2bliss/tubelissstans-no-tubes, (however the hell you want to say/spell it) setups. I am also faster dh than them most of them and slower uphill (because i'm fat).
  • + 2
 Snakecharmers preceeded Cush Core and FTD by 20 years! Anybody remember those?
  • + 2
 Toby Henderson enterprise. Don't know whatever happened to mine. PITA to put on. Wonder how they'd work now with tubeless? Probably too narrow and too hard
  • + 2
 Schwalbe super gravity solved all my issues, may be heavy but in 3 years I've had one puncture.
  • + 2
 Go do a foot out flat out corner slide in dry conditions on a rough surface. You'll be lucky if you lose only 1 knob. The only Schwalbes which don't get their knobs torn off, creating a hardly fixable hole, is their DH Gravity line.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: that's not true Waki, come on. The Hans Dampf side knobbles are awful, we know that. But the rock razor and the Magic Mary sideknobs are fine. It's the shape of them that causes it - the RR & MM are well supported and last reasonably well, whereas the HD are like little square blocks of butter placed on the side.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: not true

Post 17

forums.mtbr.com/wheels-tires/anyone-tried-schwalbes-new-addix-compound-1045441.html

My Mary DH after three days at my local DH.

Schwab did replace it though, just showed up today.
  • + 0
 @MacRamsay: I base my opinion on owning a large number of Schwalbes, with Rock Razor being the only SG that I had for longer period of time. I ripped center knobs on each single Schwalbe I had and side knobs on some. I even managed to tear a center knob off on a climb after my rear tyre spun out on a wet rock.

@MikerJ - I wanted to give them some rests of slack since I have never heard of any issues with Schwalbe DH casings, other than they wear out super fast. But well, according to your post it seems that there is no hope.

The only thing I can give to Schwalbe is that their XC tyres have amazing grip to rolling resistance ratio. It is quite impressive how much climbing and cornering grip you can squeeze out from Rocket Ron or Rapid Rob. Maxxis XC tyres suck ass in grip dept
  • + 1
 Never had a magic Mary super gravity sideknob rip off yet, hans dampf yea but who hasn't ripped those off, I'm taking about reliable casings here, I run magic Mary's front and rear on my spesh enduro and have no issues and I rack up a fair bit of mileage on my trail bike @WAKIdesigns:
  • + 2
 if tubliss for moto made bike stuff, that would take care of most of your concerns
  • + 2
 cushcore feels amazing. got it for my hardtail as well as the dh. the damping effect is very noticeable.
  • + 3
 So we want DH tires. But not their weight?
  • + 3
 Of course we do Chazz.... don't be a smart ass!
  • + 1
 Can you show sketch of a lightweight beadlock design for us, Mr. Cunningham?
On second thought you might just want to patent it before you post it on the web.
  • + 2
 It's basically been my idle hours mental engineering exercise for years now... I haven't come up with anything viable based on reasonable design constraints (for instance, I don't think having to take a bunch of bolts out to change a tire in the woods is viable.)
  • + 2
 @groghunter: but then again, if it worked well enough, said bolts would not need to be removed!
  • + 1
 @MacRamsay: how are going to get out on a cut tire? humvees solve that with a spare wheel & tire, we don't have that option.
  • + 3
 Me too.. I'm still on the tube train
  • + 1
 I can't stop clapping... and I read the article yesterday. So true what you are saying here.
  • - 2
 Been using Huck Norris, took a lot of beating but there is no protection against pro athlete or a pro idiot. I wanted to send it over a bunch of rocks and rear wheel didn't make it, landing on a rock as big as full sized human head. 30psi bars, Spec Grid. Tyre off to the trash bin, 12mm cut by rim bead, 7mm on top. Huck Norris got cut through.

I must say though, for trail/AM/Enduro If you ride fast in real mountains, with lots of chunk lying around, dress up to the occasion and use fkng DH tyres... it does not take that much more energy to pedal them up to the top.
  • + 5
 Did your wheel explode? I view huck norris more as rim dent protection than something to prevent flats.
  • + 4
 I once tried to clear a gap that was full of freshly sharpened axe heads - I came up short and landed squarely in a bunch of sharp objects. My tyre was destroyed. It was a DH casing. The end.
  • + 1
 We all know you're not a pro athlete so guess what
  • + 0
 @properp: I never said I am. At least I don't live in one of flattest places on Earth, that sooner or later will disappear under water...
  • + 1
 I gas a wtb rim that locked to a Kendra havoc wired tire.nearly destroyed both taking it off.
  • + 2
 We're all tired of waiting
  • + 1
 $4 Home Depot pipe insulation cut in half works perfect. Skeletonize as needed.
  • + 1
 Bike hack 101. Don't forget the world's best Rim tape they call it Gorilla Tape at Home Depot.
  • + 1
 "Pathetic” is that mountain bikers—paying customers—put up with that cycle of inertia for over 30 years..."

Yup!
  • + 2
 Very interesting read, thank Cunny!
  • + 1
 "Disparaging" was not the word you were looking for. "Dispiriting" perhaps?
  • + 2
 The rant of the morning? What a waste of outrage!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 Retail bike tire prices are already ridiculous. Not paying more for inserts. Hardly flat, though. None since going tubeless.
  • + 1
 On point!

"Tubeless ready" is a cop out. As is "sealing rim tape".

Why didn't UST stick? It works!
  • + 1
 3 more stories like this could be written... there are some other major areas that lack innovation too.
  • + 1
 No procore mentioned here? Works great for me..... But 100% ack: We need a REAL solution, not a good workaround.
  • + 1
 Another new standard coming. Excellent I cannot wait to retire all my components yet again.
  • + 2
 Solution: I got a dirt bike...
  • + 2
 Stop, move rocks would solve your all your issues!
  • + 2
 #nailedit. Thank you @richardcunningham,
  • + 1
 I had those foam prematubes on my 16" kid bike when I was 5... What's holding full foam back?
  • + 1
 6'4", bearded, production manager...yup I fit the stereotype...do I have to get sweaty though?
  • + 1
 This is where I am getting the foam from if anyone is interested: www.foambymail.com/PE2C/polyethylene-cylinders.html
  • + 1
 No rubber on the sidewall = bad damping = bad grip
  • + 2
 Awesome article
  • + 0
 Why does nobody point out gwin's two very famous flat tires when they talk about him using huck norris?
  • + 3
 Maybe because he doesn't use HuckNorris. He uses Flat Tire Defender. To hear him tell it, he likes the system 1st for the improved tire feel and second for its flat protection. Also, the first flat was due to a cracked rim and the second was due to a sidewall tear so the FTD technically is not to blame for either flat as it was not meant to address either causes of those flats.
  • + 1
 @freestyIAM: well it didn't defend him too well.
  • + 1
 Nylon sidewalls, rubber tread. More protective, durable and lighter
  • + 2
 Nail Head.
  • + 0
 I stopped reading when you told me that a rim protection device can stop cut sidewalls... dumb.
  • + 3
 Tubeless tires often pinch-flat hard enough to cut sidewalls beyond the sealant's ability to heal the casing..
  • + 3
 @RichardCunningham: Often? Really? If everyone rode like Aaron Gwin maybe.

Attention rim & tire makers: please bring us system rims, tires and inserts that cost as much or more than current components. Also make them incompatible with current tires and rims, and 50-200% more expensive-- all so I never ever have to spend time fixing a flat or walking out. It will be worth any price.
  • + 0
 @PinkyScar: yes really. I stopped running single ply tires for this reason
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: I'm very familiar with pinch flatting a tubeless tire and yes depending on the forces involved it can go through the tread casing and sidewall near the bead. Some designs tend to do this more than others, though a well designed 2ply is pretty solid. I would not personally consider that a torn or slashed sidewall however. The market hype around this is that you run lighter tires to offset adding a couple hundred g of rotational weight. Am I missing how these systems will protect from side impact or knob deflection of sharp objects into sidewalks? A 2 ply pretty much does away with the sidewall tears entirely and the pinch flatting issue as well. It seems like it's only half the equation, but does reduce risk by some percentage.
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: you don't have to convince me I've had enough walks out of the woods. Then the issue is trying not to get sealant flipped all over you as you push your bike out and it flies out of the holes as the tire rotates. The other issue I've always wondered about is Health aspect of sealant in a tire. Sometimes when I Dismount a tire it smells like pure death on the inside. What's growing in that tire sealant to make it smell like that?
  • + 1
 26 DH tubes work on 650b just throwing that out there
  • + 0
 Whats a tube?
  • - 3
 Went from tubeless to tubes again and no more punctures or constantly adding air...... the tyres we use don't have the technology to be tubeless.... for that to happen they should be very thick..... tubeless ok for cars, motorcycle tyres..., not bicycle tyres yet.... I was sick of the mess tubeless tyres had....
  • + 1
 "Sidewall with Race Flag design" absolutely made my day.
  • - 1
 Go by a pool noodle and put it in your tires, this will solve any and all flats.
  • + 1
 all hail the pool noodles !
  • + 1
 Amen.
  • + 4
 AMEN INDEED!!!!! (next bashing article that should help drive meaningful change... rear derailleurs)
  • - 2
 I thought Gwin signed a contract to race on a rim only, what are these tyres you speak of?
  • - 2
 On Hucknorris since yesterday! ;o)

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